10 Unique Foods For Strong Bones (By Experts!)

Updated: July 12, 2023

Foods for Stronger Bones

You know about milk, cheese, and greens being crucial foods for strong bones.

But there are others you may have never thought of that could help improve your bone density too.

That’s why we asked 10 experts the following question:

What unique (often overlooked) food do you recommend for strong bones?

Discover what foods you may be overlooking that can support your bones!

plain yogurt - foods for strong bones

Lara Pizzorno

Lara Pizzorno, MDiv, MA, LMT.

Lara Pizzorno is the author of “Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life – Naturally” and a member of the American Medical Writers Association with 29 years of experience specializing in bone health.

Full Fat, Organic Plain Yogurt

Full-fat, organic plain yogurt from pastured cows. Dairy foods, particularly yogurt, deliver the widest range of beneficial nutrients for our bones – IF, and this is crucial IF, the yogurt consumed is full fat, organic plain yogurt produced from the milk of pastured cows.

Plain yogurt (that meets these criteria) will provide not only calcium, but magnesium and zinc, plus small amounts of vitamin K2 (in the form of MK-4), vitamin A, and vitamin D (as most cow’s milk is now fortified with vitamin D, one cup of yogurt per day provides 200 IU of vitamin D3 along with 400 mg of calcium) — and a hefty dose of protein.

In addition, organic, full-fat plain yogurt from pastured cows will contain beneficial bacteria that protect the gut, greatly improving our digestion and absorption of all the nutrients bones require. And lastly, once established in our intestines, the probiotic bacteria provided by yogurt will produce the B vitamins we need to support a healthy cardiovascular system, nervous system, and energy metabolism – as well as healthy bones.

Low-fat yogurt, even if organic, will not contain the fat-soluble vitamins, K2 or A. Non-organic yogurt, even if full fat, will contain pesticide residues, possible hormone, and antibiotic residues, GMO sugars & a variety of chemical additives – all of which may harm bone via a wide variety of mechanisms.

Many studies show a significant inverse association between consumption of dairy products and elevated markers of bone turnover (indicators of excessive bone loss) and a positive association between dairy food intake and bone mineral content.

protein powders - foods for strong bones

Christal Sczebel

Christal Sczebel, C.H.N., R.M.T.

Christal is the owner & Nutritionist, Nutritionist in the Kitch Pure & Simple Nutritional Consulting.

She is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant (C.H.N.C.), Registered Massage Therapist (R.M.T.), and educated in Personal Fitness Training.

Protein Powders

Protein powders have been popular for ages, but unfortunately, there are many on the market that contain additives and artificial ingredients. However, fortunately, there are protein powders available now that are made from Bovine collagen. These collagen peptide protein powders contain no added ingredients and dissolve wonderfully into many recipes. Collagen peptides are rich in amino acids which help to strengthen our bones and joints! Collagen peptides can be found in powdered forms in specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods or online (Amazon, etc.).

black beans - foods for stronger bones

Stacy E Davis

Stacy E. Davis, NCCAOM (Acupuncturist).

Stacy completed her Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine in 2007 and maintains her NCCAOM certification as well as her licensure through the state of New Mexico.

A Wyoming native, Dr. Stacy Davis has practiced acupuncture for 10 years.

Black Beans and Kelp

In Chinese medicine, we look at vitality (what we call Jing) as coming from our kidneys. As we age, we use up our Jing, and we start to see signs that we associate with aging: graying hair, weak knees and back, and weaker bones. Interestingly, in western medicine, the kidneys play a role in bone health as well; healthy kidneys turn vitamin D into an active hormone, which helps increase calcium absorption from the intestines into the blood. So, from my perspective, when I look to strengthen bones I look to strengthen the kidneys.

There are two foods I recommend, depending on other signs and symptoms a patient might have. The first is black beans. In Chinese medicine, when we look at food, we look at the “energy” of that food. You might think of this as the nature of the food. Most legumes are considered good for the kidneys because they are the pure Jing or vitality of the plant. When you eat beans you consume that vitality. Additionally, black beans contain about 135 mg of calcium per half cup serving.

Foods that are naturally salty are also considered nourishing for the kidneys, so the second food I would consider is kelp. The slightly fishy flavor of kelp can turn some people away, so I like to use kelp granules as a salt replacement on fish and eggs and in soup.

dried plums - foods for strong bones

John La Puma

Dr. John La Puma, M.D. F.A.C.P.

Dr. La Puma has led clinical trials of nutritional interventions designed to improve obesity, hypertension, osteoarthritis, insomnia and diabetes, and pioneered culinary medicine.

His mission is to help you get measurably healthier with what you eat and how you live.


Prunes, or as their marketing board says, dried plums, may be effective in both bone maintenance and bone building in postmenopausal women. People who eat the most foods rich in vitamin C (such as citrus fruits and some stone fruits, like plums) have 70% less cartilage loss than those who eat the least and a threefold reduction in the progression of the disease.

Osteoarthritis (“wear and tear arthritis”), the most common type of arthritis in the U.S., is a painful degenerative condition that occurs when cartilage (which cushions bone joints) become cracked and pitted. It is estimated that 80% of the population will have osteoarthritis by the age of 65, although almost half of those people will not have any symptoms.

bone broth - foods for stronger bones

Kelly O Schmidt

Kelly O. Schmidt, R.D.N., L.D.N.

Fueled by passion and driven by greatness, Kelly educates and empowers her clients to reach their best health.

Kelly has been featured in Men’s Health, SELF, Glamour and more!

Bone Broth

Hands-down, bone broth. Bone broth is one of the healthiest foods we can consume daily. Most importantly, bone broth is rich in two very special amino acids: proline and glycine, as well, it’s rich in vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants (especially calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus). Consumers can use bone broth in cooking vegetables, stir fry’s or even sip it like tea. I like to make a large batch of bone broth, freeze it in icecube trays and pop out a few cubes for cooking.

sesame seeds - foods for stronger bones

Jesse Lane Lee

Jesse Lane Lee, BSc, CNP.

Jesse is a cheerful Holistic Nutritionist, cookbook author, and media personality who loves to share delicious healthy recipes.

Sesame Seeds

My favorite food for strong bones is sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are an excellent dairy-free source of calcium and also contain magnesium and phosphorus which promote bone health. On top of that, sesame seeds are high in zinc. Low levels of dietary zinc intake have been linked to osteoporosis. If you are looking for a great recipe with sesame seeds, check out my Rainbow Tahini Salad.

chia seeds - foods for strong bones

Karman Meyer

Karman Meyer, R.D., L.D.N.

Karman is a Nashville-based Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and healthy living blogger sharing recipes & nutrition tips at TheNutritionAdventure.com.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds! I like to recommend these tiny black seeds because they are so easy to incorporate into the daily diet and two tablespoons provide 15% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. That’s a nice little boost without much extra effort! Add them to a smoothie (like my Almond Butter & Jelly Smoothie!), oatmeal, yogurt, or make a delicious chia pudding!

green tea - foods for strong bones

Vickie Shanta

Vicki Shanta Retelny, R.D.N.

Vicki is a national lifestyle nutrition expert, author, speaker and culinary consultant in Chicago.

She blogs at Simple Cravings. Real Food.

Green Tea

Green tea offers nutritional support for bone health. Green and black tea contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds called flavonoids, which have been shown to help keep bones strong and healthy. Regular tea drinking has been shown to increase bone mineral density. Since oxidative stress is a key factor in bone loss and the development of osteoporosis, consuming foods and beverages with antioxidants, such as green tea, is important. There are catechins or polyphenols in tea that are powerful antioxidants, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which have been shown to support bone health.

garlic - foods for strong bones

Sheila Amir

Sheila Amir

Sheila is a nutrition expert who focuses primarily on reducing pain and inflammation.

Sheila is a regular contributor on EliteDaily, EmpowHER, Thrive Global and more!


We often think of dairy as the best food source for osteoporosis, but for many people due to preferences and/or food sensitivities, dairy isn’t an option. I recommend making plant-based sources of calcium a daily habit. Foods such as navy beans, black beans, almonds, garlic, oranges and fresh herbs offer calcium and so much more for the overall nutrition that supports bone health.

While garlic may not seem like the most calcium rich food, don’t be fooled. This root vegetable is a nutrition powerhouse and may keep vampires away. One teaspoon (roughly between half to a full clove) of garlic has 5 milligrams of calcium. Again, this may not seem like a lot, but if you’re adding it to several dishes a day, it adds up. This helps take your calcium to the next level, all while providing excellent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Most of all, I like that it helps with the most important aspect of nutrition: the logistics of nutrition. Garlic can add a lot of flavor to dishes and is a great way to add amazing flavor to other calcium rich foods without adding salt or butter.

fermented foods for strong bones

Dr. Blessing

Dr. Blessing Anyatonwu D.C., M.S.

Dr. Blessing is the founder of Earnest Holistic Health a nutritional consulting practice that focuses on helping clients get to the root of their digestive issues so they can improve their energy, losing weight and have clearer skin.

Fermented Foods

Vitamin K2 plays a vital role in preserving bone density by regulating the balance between the osteoclasts (cells that break down bone) and the osteoblasts (cells that rebuild bone).

Fermented soybeans are rich in vitamin K and have been shown to prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women.

Vitamin K2 is synthesized by the good bacteria that are found in the gut, which is why it’s important to eat fermented foods. There are a variety of different fermented foods that include dairy options such as yogurt and kefir, as well as non-dairy sources such as kimchi, natto, sauerkraut, and kombucha.

What Do YOU Think Are Foods for Stronger Bones?

Did this list give you additional options when it comes to food for strong bones? Will there be any you’re going to try because of it? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Sherry Braud

    May 20, 2017 , 6:49 am

    Thank You, I did not know about Black Bean or Collagen Peptide Protein Powder. I appreciate your informative website!

  2. Monica

    May 20, 2017 , 8:37 am

    Hi Sherry,
    Glad this post was helpful and thanks so much for your feedback. It’s truly appreciated!

    – Monica

  3. Peggy

    May 20, 2017 , 7:49 am

    Yogurt to me, is not edible. The underlying tartness is repugnent, as are most fermented foods. I can eat sauerkraut, but how much can one take? Also, how many prunes can one eat, especially if non-inflammatory colitis is a problem. AlgaeCal has increased my bone density in one femur but decreased in the other. My nails are terrible and have not improved.

  4. Monica

    May 20, 2017 , 8:44 am

    Hi Peggy,
    Definitely understand. That’s why we had what we believe was a good ‘variety’ of different options from experts for those that aren’t into yogurt and would like to try other things. In terms of prunes, studies have shown 100 grams of prunes per day to be beneficial for bone health (or 9-10 prunes) https://blog.algaecal.com/prunes-and-osteoporosis/. If you are suffering from colitis, you could try 1-2 prunes per day to start and see how that goes – although getting a recommendation from your doctor/nutritionist will be beneficial.

    It’s great to hear you have increased your bone density in your femur. It is common to increase in one area first and not the others. Here’s an explanation from Lara Pizzorno: https://blog.algaecal.com/why-am-i-increasing-bone-density-in-one-area/

  5. Pat Granfield

    May 20, 2017 , 8:17 am

    I have this condition?

  6. Monica

    May 20, 2017 , 8:47 am

    Hi Pat,
    We provide some great bone health information across the site and blog. If you have any questions about your bone health, please let us know!
    – Monica

  7. Laura Ricci

    May 20, 2017 , 9:44 am

    In the latest human studies on Prunes, the amount with greatest efficacy is 5 prunes per day. The 10 prune quantity was from their first human studies, and that’s a bit much for most folks. The 5 prune/day quantity is much better tolerated by most of us.

  8. Monica

    May 20, 2017 , 3:07 pm

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks for sharing! Definitely agree, 5/day is better all around.

    – Monica

  9. Gina

    May 20, 2017 , 11:58 am

    I was very glad to get this information and to find out that I already use most of these foods on a regular basis. I did not know about black beans, protein powder, kelp and prunes and will also add those. I’ve been making grass-fed beef bone broth for some time now, which has improved my health tremendously. When the broth is done I remove the bones and veggies and then add finely chopped leeks and a ton of garlic and just simmer a bit more. Great way to get your garlic. Perhaps you could also mention fermented cod liver oil and X-factor high vitamin butter oil from Green Pasture, I take them daily.
    Thanks so much for the article.

  10. Monica

    May 20, 2017 , 3:08 pm

    Hi Gina,
    Wonderful to hear you’re already incorporating most of these already! Yes, kelp was a surprising one for me too.

    – Monica

  11. Buck

    February 25, 2024 , 12:48 pm

    You know what also helps with bones MEAT.

  12. Ellen Kandell

    May 20, 2017 , 4:31 pm

    I’m curious about your recommendation about full fat dairy yogurt. I thought that diary contributes to an acidic body environment which is not good for bone density. Can you comment on this please?

  13. Monica

    May 22, 2017 , 8:02 am

    Hi Ellen,
    Lara Pizzorno, our Bone Health Expert, has written extensively about milk, dairy and bone health here: https://blog.algaecal.com/debunking-the-milk-and-osteoporosis-myth/
    – Monica

  14. Louis Saenz

    May 20, 2017 , 7:08 pm

    Thank you for your support and all your helpful

  15. Monica

    May 22, 2017 , 8:03 am

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Louis! Much appreciated.

    – Monica

  16. Cheryl

    May 21, 2017 , 4:57 pm

    Thanks for this info. I am already taking some of the items mentioned and will try to include the others. Most helpful.

  17. Fatima

    May 22, 2017 , 12:18 pm

    Thanks so much for all your articles! Very helpful!

    Very interesting…I didn’t think some of the items mentioned are good for bones!

    Should sesame seed be eaten raw? and how many serving a day one is suppose to take?

    Does eating a Tablespoon of Tahini suffice?

    I really look forward to your newsletter.
    Thanks so much, and all the best.

  18. Laura Theis

    February 22, 2022 , 4:33 pm

    Good info on foods for our bones! How about oranges!

  19. Kathryn Newton

    May 23, 2017 , 6:50 am

    I love the continuing research that you provide. It’s very reassuring to know that you are bringing the best current ideas/knowledge to our attention.

  20. Monica

    May 23, 2017 , 8:04 am

    Thanks, Kathryn. Wonderful to hear your feedback 🙂

    – Moncia

  21. Fatima

    April 5, 2018 , 9:54 am

    Thanks so much for the very beneficial great info!

    Can we take one Tablespoon of tahini for the sesame seed benefits or it has to be more than one Tablespoon?!

    This question was raised above but not answered:)

    Thanks so much!

  22. Mary Carpenter

    November 4, 2018 , 12:00 pm

    All these comments & questions are 18 mos. old. Are you still responding to comments? Please address the question of substituting tahini for sesame seeds, and in what quantity?

    Thank you

  23. Jenna AlgaeCal

    November 13, 2018 , 12:12 pm

    Hi Mary,

    You can absolutely use tahini as it’s made from sesame seeds! The recipe Jesse shared uses sesame seeds to create a lemon tahini dressing — you can see that recipe here.

    – Jenna @ AlgaeCal

  24. Mary Carpenter

    November 4, 2018 , 12:02 pm

    Also, why is the garlic in the picture black? I’ve never seen black garlic. Is it roasted? If so, is that more beneficial?

    Thank you.

  25. Jenna AlgaeCal

    November 5, 2018 , 3:41 pm

    Good question, Mary. Black garlic is regular garlic that’s been fermented for one month! It’s different from white garlic in that it has a sweet taste and jelly-like consistency. You can get the benefits of garlic from both forms — so feel free to test them both out in the kitchen!

    – Jenna @ AlgaeCal

  26. Mary Ruth [email protected]

    February 21, 2019 , 2:23 pm

    Is there any danger of getting mad cow disease from beef bone broth? Also is there a preference in the animal the broth comes from?Mary

  27. Jenna AlgaeCal

    March 4, 2019 , 2:41 pm

    Hi Mary,

    From my research, it doesn’t appear there’s concern about getting mad cow disease from bone broth. You could always have veggie broth instead! Keep an eye out for broth made from organic grass-fed animals or organic vegetables to minimize exposure to toxins.

    – Jenna @ AlgaeCal

  28. Mary Ruth Jarboe

    February 21, 2019 , 2:29 pm

    What about dates? Are the good for bone health?m

  29. Jenna AlgaeCal

    February 27, 2019 , 2:50 pm

    Hi Mary,

    Yes they are!

    Dates are rich in boron and magnesium — two essential nutrients for bone health. 🙂

    – Jenna @ AlgaeCal

  30. Brenda Moore

    April 28, 2019 , 9:18 pm

    Hello I stumbled on your page looking for bone building foods. I have learned a lot and will pass it on. I’m currently dealing with severe hip bursitis. Getting shots just isn’t working and I’m at my wits end. If you have any advice on how to handle this condition please share. Thank you so for this informative site.

  31. Jenna AlgaeCal

    April 29, 2019 , 3:04 pm

    Hi Brenda,

    So sorry to hear the treatment for your hip bursitis isn’t working. Our products and the information on our website is focused on bone health support. However, it seems our natural anti-inflammatory Triple Power Fish Oil may be helpful for this.

    It may also be helpful to work with a functional medicine doctor. We recommend looking for a functional doctor through The Institute for Functional Medicine here.

    Hopefully this helps, Brenda!

    – Jenna @ AlgaeCAl

  32. Julie Caldwell

    June 22, 2019 , 5:48 am

    I take chicken bone broth Is the beef broth better, n thanks for the feedback this was very helpful Julie

  33. Jenna AlgaeCal

    June 24, 2019 , 1:29 pm

    Hi Julie,

    Whichever you prefer! We just suggest choosing broth made from organic grass-fed animals or organic vegetables whenever possible.

    – Jenna @ AlgaeCal

  34. Laurena Barlow (Rena)

    July 26, 2019 , 3:59 am

    I have hip bursitis very bad got an injection 2 weeks ago & not helping. I use the prunes in my smoothies & make my bone broth. Awake almost every hour because of hip pain. Any suggestions for my hip. Also use Fege yogurt daily. Love reading your comments, really helpful. Thank you.

  35. Megan AlgaeCal

    July 26, 2019 , 10:45 am

    Hi Laurena!

    Thank you for reaching out and taking the time to share your story ❤️ We’re sorry to hear about the pain you’re in – we’d love to help!

    As you’re aware, bursitis happens due to inflammation. We recommend targeting inflammation through exercise, sleep, an anti-inflammatory diet, and our very own natural anti-inflammatory Triple Power Fish Oil! Triple Power’s formulation provides powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients. You can learn more about it here. We also have a great article on the best anti-inflammatory foods here.

    Hope this helps

  36. EFFI

    January 13, 2020 , 4:14 am

    Hi, Truly appriciate your article!! Poor bone health can cause conditions such as rickets and osteoporosis and increase the risk of breaking a bone from a fall later in life.You need sufficient calcium to strengthen your bones and vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium. By eating a healthy balanced diet you should be able to get all of the nutrients you need for healthy bones. A good diet is just one of the building blocks for healthy bones, including physical activity as well as reducing certain risk factors.

  37. Megan AlgaeCal

    January 15, 2020 , 8:55 am

    So glad you enjoyed our article!

    Calcium and vitamin D are definitely both crucial to bone health. Did you know there are actually 13 essential bone-supporting minerals? So it’s important to replenish our bones with all of these nutrients! To overcome any accelerated bone loss, supplementation may be necessary depending on the individual. Feel free to check out some of the other nutrition articles on our blog! We also have bone-healthy recipes and exercises, all of which you can see here. ?

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  38. Rebecca

    February 16, 2020 , 4:54 pm

    I have allergies to fish and nuts. What would you suggest as alternatives? I was just diagnosed with bone loss in my hip.

  39. Megan AlgaeCal

    February 19, 2020 , 9:04 am

    Hi Rebecca!

    Were you hoping to get particular nutrients from eating fish and nuts? If you could provide some additional info, we’d love to share some alternatives to help you meet these needs 🙂

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  40. Mohammad Zubair Sheikh

    July 23, 2020 , 2:30 am

    Very useful info
    Is arthritis reversible

  41. Blaire AlgaeCal

    July 23, 2020 , 11:28 am

    Hi Mohammad,

    Thanks for reaching out to us! We’re so glad you found this information useful.

    While arthritis cannot be reversed, it can be managed. We have a great article on natural remedies for arthritis that you may find helpful – you can check it out here.

    Hope that helps! Let us know if you have further questions ?

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  42. Linda Brown

    May 11, 2022 , 7:50 am

    This article highlighted surprising ingredients for me: the seeds, garlic, collagen powders, prunes, black beans & kelp, & fermented foods. Also the info on yogurt was eye opening; counter intuitive to no fat kinds in market. Thanks for this info! I trust your guidance!

  43. Lisa Abbe

    May 18, 2022 , 1:55 pm

    learned about foods I did not realize were good for bones

  44. Anna J

    May 25, 2022 , 7:32 pm

    I eat a lot of black beans and frequently drink green tea and use chia seeds in my oatmeal daily. I will increase the green tea, prunes, add some sesame seeds and maybe try bone broth occasionally. I am primarily plant based so generally don’t do dairy or meats.

  45. Mark Hamlin

    December 5, 2022 , 12:34 pm

    Great read!!! Thanks for sharing such a great blog.

  46. Shelby AlgaeCal

    December 6, 2022 , 8:41 am

    Hello Mark!

    Thank you for your kind words! We’re so thrilled to hear that you’ve been enjoying our blog! 🙂

    – Shelby @ AlgaeCal

  47. Carla Chenier

    January 21, 2023 , 8:39 pm

    Thank you. I will start drinking bone broth, green tea, and black tea. Those will be my three beverages.

  48. Brianne AlgaeCal

    January 22, 2023 , 8:57 am

    Hi Carla,

    Great choices 🙂 Glad you found this article helpful!

    – Brianne @ AlgaeCal

  49. Diana Cariveau

    March 11, 2023 , 3:19 pm

    Yes, very important info for our intire family. I like the kelp salt idea.Many good and easy uses for us, we do hace some of these almost regularly. thank you so much for awesome ideas to our familirs health.

  50. Chelsea Dugas

    March 13, 2023 , 8:47 am

    You’re so welcome, Diana! Be sure to check out the rest of our BLOG for more healthy suggestions! 🙂

    – Chelsea @ AlgaeCal

  51. Buck

    February 25, 2024 , 12:46 pm

    Does dark chocolate help with stronger bones?

  52. Yoori AlgaeCal

    February 26, 2024 , 5:37 pm

    Thank you for reaching out, Buck! Dark chocolate contains several nutrients that may indirectly contribute to bone health! Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which is an essential mineral for bone health. In addition, dark chocolate is loaded with polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins, which are organic compounds that function as antioxidants. Research has found that eating dark chocolate, 1.4 ounces to be exact, may reduce stress hormones. High stress can have negative effects on bone health, so managing stress through enjoyable activities like eating dark chocolate may indirectly benefit bones.

    But keep in mind that moderation is key! 🙂

    – Yoori

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,